The Second, ‘O’
I was out of my house around 7AM and in Downtown by 8. Look! It’s a bird! It’s a plane!? Maybe even a shopping spree? None of the above. Though there could have been many reasons why I was down there, it was none other than the Raptors that had me trying to help elderly women up so they wouldn’t get trampled on by younger men who were urgently trying to get a view of one of the most historic moments… But I’ll get to that in a second.
By the time I reached Downtown, hundreds of Torontonians – and many foreigners- were roaming the streets. I could only imagine how much people have called in to work on that faithful day. University Avenue was already filled with hundreds of people- red and black swarming the streets of Toronto. While I tried to get a hold of my colleagues, I was faced with the sad reality that I may not be able to get a hold of them again as I realized my connection was no good. I met two young black women who were very kind and strategized on how we could make it to the front (behind the Toronto sign) successfully. Alas, we finally made it.
The sun was out and as happy as I was that it didn’t rain- nice weather is great until you’re surrounded by millions of people and can’t breathe! Luckily, my two new companions were kind enough to provide me with slices of mangoes and waterfalls of their water. A few clips of the parade were showing on a big screen TV, music played, youth performed on stage and gifts were thrown to the crowd. As I looked up I saw construction workers on balconies, people on rooftops, people in their work offices looking from windows-it was a spectacle.
After sitting on the floor, backpain and hours of complete silence on the main stage, I eventually had to tell my new found friends that I could no longer stay with them because at that point, I just couldn’t breathe. The barricades surrounding the big Toronto Sign were soon non-existent and many people were sitting on, in and around the sign. I was sitting in the second “O” of Toronto- That’s when things started looking real rapture and purge like.
Bottles and glasses of liquids being thrown, people arguing using profane language, pushing and shoving, people fainting, climbing anything that would give them a good view, blood, sweat and tears- You could’ve sworn we were the ones playing on the court! It was wild! Myself along with a few other people tried to help an elderly lady get up after she was being squished and stepped on by people! At that time I realized that common decency and morality was being thrown out the highest window-which meant I also was not exempt from the behavior.
Nearly 4 hours passed before the Champions graced the stage- and when they did, it felt like the hassle was over- It was an unforgettable experience. John Tory who has confirmed June 17th as the official Raptors National Holiday was there, Justin Trudeau was present as well and Premier Doug Ford was booed when brought to the stage. That sucked. But boy was I ecstatic when the team spoke to the people. And my favorite was when the man with the plan, Kawhi Leonard did his famous laugh during his speech- amazing!
But as I looked back from where I was sitting, all I could see was a swarm of people running! And at that point I was scared, confused and worried. Word went around that there was a fight. Soon after, I discovered that two women were actually shot. It was announced that there was an emergency, but I don’t think any of us were prepared for that one.
Overall, it was an interesting, lively and unforgettable experience. I came out a survivor- with my phone, my back intact and of course my life-plus I witnessed History in the making- so yes, I guess I’m a champion too. Let’s Go Raptors.